The Washington Times - December 20, 2011, 09:02AM

Rob DiMaio enjoyed a successful NHL career, playing in 894 games for eight different teams and finishing with 277 points. But it was a trade on March 10, 2000 that made DiMaio part of history when it comes to the life and times of Mike Knuble.

The Boston Bruins dealt DiMaio to the New York Rangers for Knuble, leading to an interesting scene when DiMaio learned who he was traded for.

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“They said my name and he said, ‘Who else?’ They were like, ‘No, that’s it, Rob. Sorry.’ Straight up,” Knuble recalled being told by his new Bruins teammates. “They were in Carolina and they told him on the bus. They said, ‘Hey, you got traded to New York.’ Yeah, who else?”

At the time, Knuble was at best a journeyman right winger who had yet to realize his potential. But DiMaio didn’t remember wondering who else he was worth in return.

“No, I don’t think I said that,” DiMaio said in a phone interview last week. “To be honest with you, I really don’t remember that.”

Whether the anecdote is true or legend, the trade was sure enough real and helped Knuble ignite his career. An injury to Sergei Samsonov opened up a spot on a line with Joe Thornton and Glen Murray, and Knuble enjoyed a breakout season.

“From that point on, his game elevated,” DiMaio said. “He kind of found the player that he was and he became a good leader and a guy that was relied upon in a lot of different situations for the teams that he played on. He developed later on, which some players do – but I think that trade to Boston made him realize what type of player he was.”

Knuble and DiMaio, who is now a scout for the St. Louis Blues, haven’t kept in close touch since the trade but spoke last summer. Knuble actually bought DiMaio’s town home after the trade.

“He’s a good guy. He’s an easy guy to talk to and he’s approachable,” DiMaio said. “He’s one of those good pros that probably doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves but is a real solid guy, a good citizen.”

It seems to be impossible to find someone in hockey who doesn’t agree with that assessment.